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GSL scientists survey second site for fire weather research

July 01, 2024


NOAA GSL, Global Monitoring Lab (GML), Air Resources Lab (ARL), and Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) scientists surveyed possible new observation sites near Flagstaff, Arizona for fire weather research. Flagstaff was impacted by three wildfires in June of 2022 that caused the evacuation of hundreds of residents. NOAA researchers are identifying sites to host four new NOAA remote weather, air quality, and soil observation stations in the Western United States.

The instruments to be installed at these sites will measure wind, temperature, and humidity profiles in the lowest layer of the atmosphere, as well as a large number of other land and atmospheric variables. In addition to monitoring active fires, they will also provide observations that could provide early warnings of high-risk weather conditions.

Wildfires have been a natural, cyclical, and seasonal event in many Western states for thousands of years, but Earth's shifting climate has more recently turned fire into a year-round threat. Year after year, wildfires fill the nation’s skies with smoke, threaten lives, destroy homes, paint the hills black with burn scars, pollute water supplies, disrupt economies, and alter the landscape for generations.

By helping build and prepare new observing systems, advance high-resolution forecast models, and accelerate the transition of experimental products to operations, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s investment in NOAA’s fire weather research will help ensure that NOAA continues to build a Fire-Ready Nation.

Photo caption: Matt Mahalik (NOAA GSL), Dave Turner (NOAA GSL), Tilden Meyers (NOAA ARL), and Nate O’Meara from the Flagstaff Arboretum (from right to left) from last week, as we inspected the arboretum for a potential fire-weather observing site. Gary Hodges (NOAA GML/CIRES, not shown) was also part of this investigative team.

Scientists survey a possible observation site near Flagstaff, Arizona for fire weather. Photo shows four men on a dirt road in a forest of pine trees.